While Kobe Bryant will forever be mentioned with and compared to Michael Jordan and LeBron James, the Los Angeles Lakers legend had other memorable matchups during his 20-year career. Among them were games against Vince Carter, Allen Iverson and Tracy McGrady, among others.
In terms of Iverson, Bryant memorably used the prolific scoring guard as motivation to improve defensively. During their rookie seasons in 1996, Iverson had 41 points and 10 assists against the Lakers.
Bryant was determined from that point forward to be a better defender and he went out studying Iverson’s offensive repertoire. That paid off in 2000 when Bryant was put on Iverson for the second half of a game and shut him out.
For some, scoring 41 points against Bryant and the Lakers might be a top highlight. However, Iverson pointed to one of Bryant’s scoring exploits that he and the Denver Nuggets were on the receiving end of as his favorite memory of the five-time champion, via Complex:
“We were playing them when I was in Denver, and Kenyon started guarding him and [Bryant] wasn’t doing anything. They were going back and forth with each other, and Kenyon was like, ‘You put your sneakers like I put on mine, you put on your uniform like I put on mine. I ain’t scared of you. I’d beat your…’ Going crazy with him. And I’m sitting there like, oh my God. Because [Bryant] has been quiet. Man, this man started going crazy. I mean, dunks, threes, midrange. I mean killing us. I think he had like 49 or something. Somebody was shooting a free throw and he was like, ‘Chuck, I was chilling. And they shook the tree and the mamba fell out.’ That was my fondest moment when it came to him.”
Memory may not be served fully correct, as Bryant had games of 42 and 40 points against the Nuggets during Iverson’s tenure with the team. But the message nonetheless resonates.
Bryant is among a select group of current or former players who proved time and time again engaging in trash talk with them is ill advised. Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green detailed the first and only exchange he ever had with Bryant, because of the ramifications.